Drug Discovery Accelerates Immunotherapy for Cancer

UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

May 27, 2014

Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered a drug that enhances an immune-based treatment for cancer. Dr. Robert Prins, associate professor of neurosurgery and molecular and medical pharmacology and Dominique Lisiero, a PhD student in the Prins laboratory, led the research.

The study was published in the April edition of the Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer.

The treatment uses transplantation of T cells, the foot soldiers of the immune system, in a process called T cell adoptive transfer, that are trained specifically to attack cancer cells transplanted into animals. The new drug, a histone deacetylase inhibitor called LBH589 (generic name: panobinostat), was found to enhance the activity of the T cells and of the immune system’s inflammatory response in mice, giving a boost to the treatment’s tumor-shrinking effect.

With the drug, the transferred T cells multiplied faster, survived longer and rejected the established cancer more efficiently.

“The stage is now set for the drug to move forward into clinical trials where it has potential to enhance adoptive T cell transfer and dendritic cell vaccine immunotherapy, both of which are already being used in cancer patients,” Prins said.

About the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center

UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has more than 240 researchers and clinicians engaged in disease research, prevention, detection, control, treatment and education. One of the nation’s largest comprehensive cancer centers, the Jonsson center is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies. In July 2013, the Jonsson Cancer Center was named among the top 12 cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 14 consecutive years. For more information on the Jonsson Cancer Center, visit our website at http://www.cancer.ucla.edu.

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